Remember When, Chattanooga? The TVA Office of Power was a downtown wonder in the 1980s

Chattanooga Times photo by George Baker. This mid-1980s aerial photo of the TVA Office of Power building being erected in downtown Chattanooga is part of a collection of vintage photographs at ChattanoogaHistory.com.
Chattanooga Times photo by George Baker. This mid-1980s aerial photo of the TVA Office of Power building being erected in downtown Chattanooga is part of a collection of vintage photographs at ChattanoogaHistory.com.


In the 1980s, construction of the million-square-foot TVA Office of Power in downtown Chattanooga was a pivotal point for the resurgence of the city.

The sprawling complex cost $180 million to build and eventually housed thousands of white-collar TVA employees. About 3,000 TVA workers are still assigned there, although COVID-19 restrictions have limited the number of people who work there to a fraction of that number on any given day, according to officials.

This accompanying aerial photo, shot by former Chattanooga Times photographer George Baker, was taken months before the TVA complex opened in the summer of 1985. Cranes can be seen as the upper floors of the buildings are topped off.

That same summer, the Warehouse Row retail and office complex opened across Market Street from the TVA complex.

A row of old warehouses was renovated at a cost of $32 million and housed such retailers as a Ralph Lauren apparel and Johnston & Murphy footwear. For a period in the 1980s and 1990s, Warehouse Row was practically filled on weekends with locals and shoppers from Atlanta, who drove up to shop at the trendy outlet stores.

Also in the same period in the mid-1980s, the $40 million Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center was opened near the TVA complex, with its attached Holiday Inn property (now the Chattanooga Marriott Downtown) and 1,000-vehicle parking garage.

The Tallan Building nearby at 200 West M.L.King Blvd., now known as the Tallan Financial Center, was also added to the Chattanooga skyline during the 1980s.

The 1980s building boom downtown lent momentum to the riverfront redevelopment that began with the opening of the Tennessee Aquarium in 1992 and continued into the 21st century.

The accompanying photo was part of a collection of vintage images at ChattanoogaHistory.com curated by history enthusiast Sam Hall.

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ChattanoogaHistory.com

Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPcolumnist.